Earlier: It’s been a rough morning for Metrorail. First, a dangling cable prompted major delays on the Red Line, and now a cracked rail is causing minor delays on the Orange Line.
The cracked rail is on the inbound track of the Orange Line between East Falls Church and Ballston. Repairs are underway and are expected to be completed before the evening rush hour.
While repairs continue, trains will be single tracking between East Falls Church and Ballston. According to WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel, right now there are only delays of about five minutes because trains are currently operating on an off-peak schedule.
The cracked rail is reportedly “almost certainly” the result of the recent temperature drop. Stessel explained that because metal expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations, over time that can cause cracks in the rails.
(Updated at 5:05 p.m. on 11/12/13) Nearly 10 months ago, workers excavated land at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive to make way for a new subdivision called Lacey Lane. Shortly after the land was readied, however, the project stalled out and currently appears to be little more than a vacant lot.
In February, brothers Taylor and Milton Chamberlin of The Barrett Companies said they expected work to begin on the first model home at the site in March, with work on the second beginning shortly thereafter. They anticipated the two models would take about seven months each to build and would be ready by autumn. So far, no housing construction is visible at the site.
The land is divided into nine properties. Each plot will have a house with a base price of $1.4 million.
Calls and emails to Milton Chamberlin over the past few weeks were not returned. But Arlington County’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD) explained where things stand from the county’s point of view.
According to CPHD, there has not been any trouble with The Barrett Companies, the delay revolves around fulfilling safety regulations in order to get a building permit. County staff found outstanding “life safety regulations” that the developer needs to fulfill before a building permit can be granted. Once the developer makes some clarifications and revisions to the permit documents, the permit can be approved.
“To say it plainly, life safety is really about making sure the buildings are safe for people to occupy,” said CPHD spokeswoman Helen Duong. “For this project, the outstanding items on this permit have more to do with the documentation of the design than concerns about the adequacy of the design itself.”
Basically, it appears the designer believed certain safety features were implied in the building plans, but they need to be explicitly included. Revisions must continue until county staff can see all the necessary safety features drawn in.
According to the CPHD permit records, The Barrett Companies first applied for a Lacey Lane building permit in January, but the plans were sent back for revision in February. This process was repeated a few times in the following months, and CPHD’s Inspection Services last rejected a version of the plan in April. No further revisions have been submitted since then.
Permit applications stay active for six months but expire if no action has been taken after that time. The current permit application for Lacey Lane has an expiration date of March 15, 2014. That date can move back another six months, however, if further actions occur, such as submitting another round of revisions.
Once CPHD Inspection Services staff approves the plan’s revisions, the developer must also get the permit approved by the Department of Environmental Services. We’re told that process typically takes place in just a few minutes.
In addition to accidents, police scanner traffic indicates dozens of drivers skidding and nearly spinning out on the slippery roads. There are also numerous reports of vehicles getting stuck, particularly in hilly areas. Police report some drivers not paying attention closely enough and running into other vehicles, or even running over flares that are marking existing traffic problems. Drivers are reminded to slow down and use extra caution.
All Arlington Public Schools will open two hours late and the Extended Day program will open two hours late. Morning field trips are canceled. All APS administrative offices and the pools will open on time.
The Office of Personnel Management confirms that federal agencies are open, but employees have the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework. Arlington County government is opening on time, but workers have the option for unscheduled leave or telework, with supervisor approval.
The following closures and schedule alterations are in effect for the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation:
- All Preschool programs are cancelled.
- All senior centers will open at noon, but lunch programs and transportation service at Walter Reed, Langston-Brown and Arlington Mill at Fairlington are cancelled.
- All Enjoy Arlington classes and nature center programs scheduled to start prior to 11:59 am are cancelled in all buildings. All Enjoy Arlington classes and nature center programs with scheduled start time of noon or later will proceed as scheduled.
- All joint use facilities Drew, Carver, Gunston, Langston, and Thomas Jefferson Community Center will open at 10:00 a.m. Barcroft, Lee, Madison, Dawson Terrace, Lubber Run, Fairlington and Walter Reed center hours and programs will proceed as scheduled.
The Department of Environmental Services reports that crews are currently working to treat all primary (red) and secondary (blue) roads on the snow map, and expect to move into the neighborhoods later in the day. DES offers the following tips:
- Do not drive unless necessary so roads will be open for emergency and snow removal vehicles.
- Help your neighbors clean the sidewalk on the same side of the street as parked cars to increase pedestrian safety.
- Keep snow cleared from fire hydrants, storm drains and downspouts on your home.
The National Weather Service’s Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect until 9:00 a.m.
After a number of delays, the long awaited construction on the Overlee Community Association pool and clubhouse (6030 Lee Hwy) has begun. Final permits were obtained just last week, allowing construction to move forward.
The delay in obtaining county permits has been one of the numerous factors contributing to overall project delays, according to Overlee Long Range Planning Committee Chairman Chris Tai. He explained that a project like this is difficult due to squeezing a number of different things onto one compact site.
To those who criticize the length of time the project has taken to get going, Tai suggests remaining focused on forward progress.
“There’s plenty of time later to go back and figure out what could have been done differently,” Tai said. “But for now, we’re focused on getting the pool open and minimizing the disruption to members and the community in general.”
Demolition of the pool and the late 19th centruy clubhouse began in January and recently finished. Currently, crews at the site have begun construction on the new pool, deck and surrounding facilites.
The plan is to open different sections of the club in phases as they’re completed. Safety barriers will surround areas that are still under construction. The goal is to get the bath house and lap pool opened first, so swimmers can get back in the water as soon as possible. At this point, the best estimate for opening the main pool and surrounding deck is early June. The clubhouse will open last, possibly as soon as mid-July.
Tai says the lack of a clubhouse for at least part of the season should come as no surprise to members.
“We told all our members from day one that they shouldn’t anticipate much use of the clubhouse this coming summer,” Tai said. “The priority is to get the main pool up and running as soon as possible.”
A ceremony is being held by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation to commemorate the statue unveiling, in front of the airport’s Terminal A.
Drivers should expect heavier-than-usual traffic around the arrivals and departures terminals due to lane closures for the event, airport officials said. Four lanes will merge into one to detour around the event site. There’s also a possibility that traffic will be completely blocked for short periods along the detour route.
Detours will be in place from 11:00 a.m. through 12:00 p.m. Drivers are encouraged to avoid driving up to the terminals, and to instead keep left at the entrance to the airport, following signs toward parking garages. Passengers can be dropped off or picked up in the hourly parking garage closest to their terminal. Using taxis, which have their own boarding area, or Metro is also bring encouraged.
(Updated at 7:25 a.m.) The handful of Arlington public schools that were slated to be open today are operating on a two-hour delay due to icy road conditions. From APS:
Barcroft and Campbell Elementary schools, the Arlington Mill and Langston High School Continuation programs, and the Pools will open two hours late today. Students in all other APS schools and programs have No School today due to a scheduled Teacher Work Day. Teachers may report two hours late. Liberal leave is available for 12-month employees and for 10-month school office staff members. Essential employees should report on time.
There’s also a two-hour delay for federal employees.
ART bus service was operating on its inclement weather limited service plan earlier this morning, but has since switched back to normal service. Some delays are still expected.
Arlington County government offices are opening on time.
As a result, the project — which started last summer and was originally slated to take 15 months — has been prolonged by an estimated three months. Planners will now have to redesign the relocation process. Work is not expected to resume until “late spring,” according to a letter from the county to local residents and organizations.
The delay will also affect the Metro and ART bus stops that were closed and relocated as a result of the project.
Separately, the county announced that it’s working to repair the torn-up and uneven stretch of the Pike between Four Mile Run Drive and South Wakefield Street. However, cold temperatures are expected to keep the necessary asphalt work from being completed until mid-February.
Residents have been complaining about the potholes and sinkholes and other car-rattling pockmarks in the roadway.
“Right now the road is in a very bad state,” said Takis Karantonis, director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. “Folks have complained often to us.”
Metro is warning Blue and Yellow Line riders to add a half hour to their travel time this weekend.
Track work, starting at 10:00 tonight and ending at midnight on Sunday, will force trains to single-track through parts of the system.
Metro says riders should expect trains to run about every 30 minutes on both lines.
As a reminder, those driving into the District may also face delays this weekend. Chain Bridge will be closed to all traffic starting at 9:00 tonight.
Could anything else go wrong on outgoing Metro General Manager John Catoe’s watch? Catoe leaves office on April 2, which may be time enough for Metro to have another major, every-one’s-commute-affected catastrophe.
Today started out with Metrorail only serving the closer-to-the-city stations, leaving those in the outer suburbs to fend for themselves. Many people chose to drive, causing highways to turn into parking lots.
Then, in many cases, Metro only ran the trains every 30-45 minutes, causing huge lines to form at stations. At one point, according to several accounts, access to the Ballston Metro station was cut off due to too many people waiting for trains. Massive queues were also reported at the Pentagon City Metro station.
Finally, although this was beyond Metro’s control, a train derailed at the Farragut North station, causing already-bad delays on the Red Line to become nightmarish. Luckily, there were only a few very minor injuries.
The derailed train has been cleared and the stationed has reopened, Metro says, but the delays continue.
“Trains will be restricted to a speed of 25 mph between Dupont Circle and Farragut North Metrorail stations while Metro officials investigate the incident,” Metro said in a statement.
Metro says 345 people were on board the derailed six-car train, which should give you a sense of just how full trains are running today.
As if it wasn’t hard enough to get around already, WMATA is reporting a “major delay” on the Orange Line at Ballston, heading towards New Carrollton. WMATA says the delays are due to a “door malfunction.”